Best cruises for families on holiday

Cash in on some quality family time on these family-friendly cruise lines.

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Multi-generational holidays are the new family reunions. They’re an ideal way to catch up, unwind and explore with loved ones without having to worry about taking care of accommodation, food and transportation between ports.

Whether you’re a family of three or a party of 20, these lines are the specialists when it comes to organising family cruises that tick all the boxes for young and old. All you need to do is choose the destination.

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1. Disney Cruise Line

Disney has secured its spot as a magical brand the whole family can enjoy, and its cruises are no different.

There's a little bit of magic in store for every member of your crew when you board a Disney cruise ship. Adults have freedom to escape to their own heavenly oases onboard while little ones can play in supervised youth groups or in activity playground.

  • Activities for the whole family: Broadway-style live shows, Walt Disney theatre, karaoke, trivia, music and dance deck parties, family-friendly port activities and kids' pools.
  • Family cabins: Disney's liners have deluxe family staterooms that are ideal for up to five guests. For larger families, Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy have over 500 connecting cabins.
  • Family discounts: Discounted rates for children sharing a cabin with parents.

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2. Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian has a reputation for providing some of the best entertainment at sea for young and old.

Featuring Broadway-style musicals, areas for various sports and pools complete with waterslides and deckchairs, Norwegian's activities aim to bring families together onboard. If you're looking for the best European cruise for families, this line is it.

  • Activities for the whole family: Broadway musicals, mini-golf, bowling, circus and magician shows, water parks, rope courses and rock climbing walls.
  • Family cabins: Connecting staterooms are available for multi-generational parties. Family staterooms are best for families of four.
  • Family discounts: On most sailings, Norwegian offers discounts for the third to the eighth guest in one party.

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3. Carnival Cruise Line

Not all families are made the same, so Carnival gives you and your brood plenty of options to play it your way.

With basketball courts and a fast and steep water slide for kids, and a casino and adults-only retreat for parents, there's a reason why Carnival is referred to as the "fun" cruise line. It currently offers more than 200 family-friendly activities across

  • Activities for the whole family: Dr Seuss-themed entertainment, water slides, mini-golf, swimming pools, basketball and dive-in movies.
  • Family cabins: Family staterooms can accommodate up to four. Interconnecting rooms are available
  • Family discounts: Discounts for third and fourth guests in the same room.

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4. P&O Cruises Australia

With home ports in Australia, New Zealand and Asia, P&O keeps the family trip close to home with a shorter journey to the wharf, making it one of the best cruises for families in Australia.

As a bonus for older families, P&O limits the number of children who embark, so you can expect a good mix of ages onboard its family-friendly fleet. As an estimate, around one third of its passengers are either families or multi-generationals.

  • Activities for the whole family: Movies by the pool, theatre performances, live music and trivia and game shows.
  • Family cabins: Three- and four-berth rooms. Cabin configurations tend to be twin beds with one to two upper bunk beds.
  • Family discounts: Discounts available for groups of 16 guests or more.

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5. Royal Caribbean International

Winner of the Top Cruise Lines for Families by Travel + Leisure readers in 2013, Royal Caribbean creates holidays the whole family can enjoy.

It achieves this with a blend of one-of-a-kind kids, family and adult activities both onboard and onshore. These include a skydiving simulator and surfing simulator. Royal Caribbean also offers group discounts and customisation options.

  • Activities for the whole family: Roller skating rink, bumper cars, circus school, surf simulator, mini-golf, exclusive DreamWorks shows and parades.
  • Family cabins: Generous family and two-bedroom cabins can accommodate up to eight people.
  • Family discounts: Discounts for third and fourth passengers in the same cabin.

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6. Captain Cook Cruises

When it comes to the best voyages for families in Australia, Captain Cook Cruises is right up there.

Aussie born and bred, this cruise line sails in and around our nation. It features up to week-long cruises through the Murray River and the Fiji islands. Cruise ships to Fiji have kids' clubs, childminding services, swimming pools and entertainment.

  • Activities for the whole family: Sightseeing, whale watching, hop-on/hop-off and adventurous shore excursions.
  • Family cabins: Family cabins are available on Fiji cruises. The Murray Darling paddlesteamer has rooms capable of accommodating up to three people.
  • Family discounts: Child discounts available when booking adjoining staterooms on Fiji cruises. Discounts for triple occupancy available on Murray Darling cruises.

Best cruises for families of 4

  • Costa Cruises. Generous family cabins can accommodate up to four people, with special discounts for third and fourth guests.
  • Norwegian Cruises. Book two double suites to accommodate you and your kids, and double the fun with interconnecting rooms.
  • Carnival Cruise Line. Family rooms are made for up to four people, and you can take advantage of family discounts.
  • Celebrity Cruises. You can book a family veranda room, which can accommodate two adults and two children in separate bedrooms.

Best cruises for families of 5

  • Royal Caribbean. Royal Caribbean offers family rooms that can fit up to six people, with two twin beds, a pullout sofa and double bunk beds.
  • Disney Cruises. Family rooms can accommodate up to five people, so you can enjoy the magic of Disney without having to pay for an extra suite.
  • Cunard. This cruise line doesn't have any five-person rooms, but you can combine a triple and a double room for the best value.
  • Carnival Cruise Line. Most rooms are made for families of four but oceanview staterooms can fit families of five.

Family cruise cabins compared

Family room typesMaximum occupancy per roomAre interconnecting rooms available?
Disney Cruise LineDeluxe family staterooms5Yes
Norwegian Cruise LineFamily staterooms4Yes
Carnival Cruise LineFamily staterooms4Yes
P&O Cruises AustraliaQuad-share rooms and suites4Yes
Royal Caribbean InternationalFamily and two-bedroom cabins8Yes
Captain Cook CruisesFamily rooms (Fiji), paddle steamer cabins (Murray Darling)4 (Fiji) and 3 (Murray Darling)Yes

Importance of cruise travel insurance for families

Bringing the whole brood along on a trip isn't cheap and takes a lot of planning to make it happen.

If anything doesn't go quite according to that plan it's assuring to know that you can get cruise travel insurance that's specifically designed for sailings. Compared to regular travel insurance, cruise plans can include added benefits like missed shore excursions if there's bad weather in a port, lost or damaged formal wear if something happens to your bag along the journey and cabin confinement compensation if your family comes down with a contagious stomach bug..

Top cruise deals and flights

P&O CruisesP&O Cruises
FLASH SALE

3-night Australia cruises from $249

Available for cruises on select dates from November 2021 - April 2022. Sample price is for a Comedy Cruise in Sydney with Pacific Adventure. Destinations include Moreton Island, Airlie Beach, Kangaroo Island, Tasmania, Auckland, Cairns, Whitsundays and more. T&Cs apply.

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P&O CruisesP&O Cruises

$1 deposits + up to $500 onboard credit on Australia and South Pacific cruises

Available on select voyages in 2021 and 2022. Destinations include Brisbane, Sydney, New Zealand, Vanuatu, Fiji and more. T&Cs apply.

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Luxury EscapesLuxury Escapes

Up to 61% off domestic holiday packages

Available on select dates until December 2021, including over Christmas and New Year's Eve. Destinations include Adelaide, Gold Coast, Byron Bay, Sydney, Cairns, Canberra, Hunter Valley and more. T&Cs apply.

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Luxury EscapesLuxury Escapes

Up to 19% off 12-night Great Barrier Reef cruise + luxurious Sydney stay

Available for travel on 30 October 2021. Package includes a 2-night pre cruise stay at Hyatt Regency Sydney with daily breakfast, $50 dining credit, 12 nights onboard Celebrity Eclipse, on board meals and more. Must purchase for 2 persons. T&Cs apply.

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RedBalloonRedBalloon

Up to 10% off Sydney Harbour dinner cruise with drinks

Plus get an extra 10% off select travel dates when you buy 2 vouchers or more. Includes a 3- course a la carte dinner, 3-hour cruise and premium beers and wines. T&Cs apply.

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RedBalloonRedBalloon

Up to 10% off Sydney Harbour lunch cruise with drinks

Plus get an extra 10% off select travel dates when you buy 2 vouchers or more. Includes a 2- course a la carte lunch, 2.5 hour cruise and premium beers and wines. T&Cs apply.

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RedBalloonRedBalloon

Extra 10% off Swan River dinner cruise with drinks in Perth

Available on select dates when you buy 2 or more vouchers and includes a 3-course meal dinner. T&Cs apply.

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G AdventuresG Adventures

Up to 15% off Croatia sailing trip

Available on select travel dates until Jun 2022. Includes accommodation, snorkeling equipment and more. T&Cs apply.

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Luxury EscapesLuxury Escapes

Up to 51% off 6-night Whitsunday sailing experience for 6

Available for travel until 31 March 2022. Includes early boarding at 5pm, an overnight stay onboard the catamaran in the Coral Sea Marina and more. T&Cs apply.

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G AdventuresG Adventures

Peru: Up to 15% off Amazon riverboat adventure

Available for travel from April 2021 - December 2022. Includes transfers, 9-day cruise, internal flights and more. T&Cs apply.

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G AdventuresG Adventures

Up to 15% off 7-day Maldives cruise tour

Available for travel from March 2021 - December 2022. Includes transfers, snorkeling equipment and more. T&Cs apply.

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G AdventuresG Adventures

Up to 15% off 7-day British Virgin Island cruise trip

Plus get an extra 50% off when you choose My Own Room on trips until from October - December 2021. Includes snorkeling equipment, beach towels and a licensed skipper. T&Cs apply.

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G AdventuresG Adventures

Up to 15% off 10-day Greece sailing tour

Available on select travel dates until June 2022. Destinations include Santorini, Cyclades and Mykonos. T&Cs apply.

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UniworldUniworld

Up to $1,500 off 2022 Europe river cruises w/flexibilty

Cruise to places including Vienna, Prague, Paris, Amsterdam and more. Available on cruises in 2022 with flexibility until 60 days prior to departure.

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UniworldUniworld

Up to $750 off Europe river cruises

Available on cruises in 2021. Destinations include France, India, Amsterdam, Paris, Cambodia and more. T&Cs apply.

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UniworldUniworld

Up to 12% off 2022 cruises

Available on select travel dates when you pay in full within 3 days of booking. Destinations include France, Amsterdam, Paris, Egypt, Vietnam, Cambodia and more. T&Cs apply.

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G AdventuresG Adventures

Up to 15% off 7-day Thailand sailing

Available on select travel dates until 30 June 2022. Package includes accommodation, meals and guide. T&Cs apply.

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CruiseDirectCruiseDirect

Up to 30% off + Up to USD$1,000 OBC with Norwegian Cruise Lines

Available on select voyages in 2021 and 2022. Destinations include Miami, Bahamas, San Francisco, Canada and more. T&Cs apply.

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CruiseDirectCruiseDirect

Up to US$1,500 OBC with Princess Cruises

Plus get free drinks, upgrades, tips and Wi-Fi on board. Available on select voyages in 2021-2021 to Melbourne, Sydney, Vancouver, Los Angeles and more. T&Cs apply.

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CruiseDirectCruiseDirect

Up to USD$2,600 OBC on Celebrity Cruises

Available on select sail dates in 2021 and 2022. Destinations include Bahamas, USA, Vancouver, Alaska, Mexico, Galapagos and more.

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MSC CruisesMSC Cruises

Up to 69% off Caribbean and Bahamas cruises

Available on select travel dates on 3+ nights cruises departing from from Miami or Orlando. T&Cs apply.

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P&O CruisesP&O Cruises

Short break cruises from $312

Available on select dates in 2020 and 2021. Destinations include Auckland, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and more. Sample rate is for a 3-night Comedy Cruise.

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RedBalloonRedBalloon

Melbourne seafood brunch cruise with champagne from $250

Available on select travel dates for a 2.5-hour experience. Plus get 10% on when you buy 2 or more vouchers. T&Cs apply.

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G AdventuresG Adventures

Up to 15% off marine adventures

Plus get an extra 15% off when you choose My Own Room on trips until 30 June 2022. Destinations include Greece, Thailand, Croatia, Maldives and more. T&Cs apply.

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CruiseDirectCruiseDirect

Up to 60% off second guest with Royal Caribbean Cruises

Plus get up to US$1,000 OBC on sailings in 2021-2022. Destinations include Bahamas, USA, Mexico, Canada, Spain, Portugal, Japan and more. T&Cs apply.

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Cheap O AirCheap O Air

Up to 80% off worldwide cruises

Available on select travel dates with Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, Carnival Cruises, Princess Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line and more. T&Cs apply.

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Cheap O AirCheap O Air

Cruise from just USD$159

Book a cruise with CheapOair on select travel dates. Destinations include Bahamas, Caribbean, Mixico and more.

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MSC CruisesMSC Cruises

Up to $400 OBC + Kids sail free on worldwide cruises

Available on 3, 4 and 7 nights cruises from 2021-2022. Destinations include Bahamas, Caribbean, Spain, France and more. T&Cs apply..

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Let's FerryLet's Ferry

Greece: 20% off trips with Blue Star Ferries

Available on economy class on select travel dates. T&Cs apply.

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Let's FerryLet's Ferry

Greece: Blue Star Ferries tickets from EUR€20

Available on select travel dates for economy class. T&Cs apply.

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Let's FerryLet's Ferry

Up to 20% off Adriatic routes with Minoan Lines

Available on select dates until 31 December 2021 on trips from Italy to Greece. Must be booked 21 days in advance. T&Cs apply.

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Let's FerryLet's Ferry

Up to 20% off Superfast Ferries

Available on select dates until 31 December 2021 from Italy to Greece. Must be booked 21 days in advance. T&Cs apply.

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UniworldUniworld

Up to $750 off River Heritage Club members

Available on select 2021 dates. Destinations include India, France, Portugal, Spain, Egypt and more. T&Cs apply.

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CruiseDirectCruiseDirect

Australia and New Zealand cruises from US$365

Available on select dates in 2021 with Princess Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Holland America Line and more. Sample rate is for a 3-night cruise with Royal Caribbean.

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P&O CruisesP&O Cruises

School holiday cruises from $849

Available on select dates from June 2021 - July 2022. Destinations include Sydney, Brisbane, New Caledonia, Broome, Bali, Fiji and more. T&Cs apply.

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CruiseDirectCruiseDirect

Europe cruises from USD$549 with Costa Cruises

Plus get free drinks and 10% off shore excursions on select voyages in 2021. Destinations include Barcelona, Croatia, Italy, Amsterdam and more. T&Cs apply.

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TourRadarTourRadar

Up to 50% off worldwide cruises

Available on select travel dates to Croatia, Greece, Egypt, London, Turkey, Italy, France and more.

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TourRadarTourRadar

Up to 50% off river cruises

Available on select travel dates. Destinations include Egypt, London, Morocco, Jordan, Vietnam, Germany, Austria, Brussels and more.

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